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Pretty Goblins

Read an excerpt from Pretty Goblins

By Jessica Lewis Date: January 08, 2021 Tags: Excerpts

Beth Graham’s Pretty Goblins is a beautiful look at the bonds of sisterhood and the aftermath of trauma. Twins Lizzie and Laura knew they had an unbreakable bond when they were told their hearts beat simultaneously in the womb. They’re there for each other through problems at home and with their peers. But after Lizzie is raped, she turns to alcohol, and the sisters’ bond becomes strained over years.

Pretty Goblins is told through a series of flashbacks sparked by when thirty-six-year-old Laura visits Lizzie’s apartment. In this excerpt, Laura and Lizzie attend their father’s wedding.

***

The past. An overly romantic love song plays. LAURA and LIZZIE are at their father’s wedding. LIZZIE is tipsy once again. They watch their father and Marilyn dancing on the dance floor.

LAURA: (twenty-seven years old) Wow. Marilyn and Dad gettin’ hitched. They could not have picked a cheesier song for their first dance.

LIZZIE: (twenty-seven years old) It’s a wedding. Everything’s cheesy when it comes to holy matrimony.

LAURA: Well, if it makes him happy—

LIZZIE: Gag.

LAURA: —and he seems happy—

LIZZIE: Barf.

LAURA: —then who are we to say?

LIZZIE: We’re his daughters, for fuck’s sake! He coulda asked our permission.

LAURA: Dads don’t need permission.

LIZZIE: Mine does.

LAURA: Cut him some slack. He’s been on his own for over ten years. It musta been lonely.

LIZZIE: I guess a wife can be replaced, but a mother . . . ? Never.

LAURA: Not ours, that’s for sure.

LIZZIE: Hey! Nobody made a speech. Someone has to.

LAURA: Don’t look at me.

LIZZIE: It’s not a wedding without a toast to the bride. Hey, everyone!

LAURA: Oh / good god.

LIZZIE: Everyone, listen up! It’s speech time!

LAURA: No, it’s / not.

LIZZIE: Hey! Hey!

The music stops.

Friends, relatives, distinguished guests! My sister Laura and I wanna take this opportunity to welcome Marilyn to our small but mightily fucked-up family.

She looks at LAURA.

LAURA: Welcome! . . . Now, let’s get / back to the—

LIZZIE: Marilyn, you’ve found a man who can love pretty much anyone or anything. I mean, heck, he managed to love my mom for more than eighteen years, and that could not have been easy, and, every once in a while, I get the feeling he might just love me, and that is definitely not easy.

LAURA: Lizzie—

LIZZIE: But I digress. Marilyn, you’ll never be our real mom.

LAURA: Whoa.

LIZZIE: Because there’s no substitute for the real thing. She was one of a kind. Our real mom was mangy and mean and wild as hell. She played rough and loved fiercely. Am I right, Laura?

LAURA: I don’t think / this is—

LIZZIE: Am I right?!

LAURA: Sure. Yes, / you’re—

LIZZIE: If—if she was here—

LAURA: Which she’s not.

LIZZIE: But if she was, I know exactly what she’d do. She’d go feral. We’re talkin’ full coyote.

LAURA: Lizzie—

LIZZIE: She’d get down on her hands and knees—

LAURA: No.

LIZZIE: —take a deep breath all the way down to her hoodelee doodelee—

LAURA: Don’t / do this.

LIZZIE: —point her snout up to the sky, and howl for all she was worth. / Like this:

LAURA prevents LIZZIE from getting down on her hands and knees.

LAURA: No, no, no! Stand up!

LIZZIE opens her mouth to howl just as LAURA covers it and stops the howl from happening.

No!

LIZZIE: (through a covered mouth) I’m trying to welcome Marilyn.

LAURA: Shhh. Please. Not like this. Fuck, I’ll do it. Let me do it.

LIZZIE stops struggling. LAURA releases her.

LIZZIE: Speech!

LAURA: Marilyn, what Lizzie is trying to say is . . . our mom’s a hard act to follow, but we can’t imagine anyone being more suited to—to loving our dad than you. You make him happy and he deserves to be happy. You both do. Everyone deserves a shot at happiness. Isn’t that right, Lizzie?

LIZZIE: What are you gonna do with all of Mom’s / stuff?

LAURA: So, congratulations!

LIZZIE: A toast!

LAURA: To the bride!

LIZZIE: And my dad—the groom! Enough speechifying! Let’s dance!

LAURA: Music!

The music starts up.

LIZZIE: Dance with me, Laura!

LAURA: Whatever you want, just behave yourself.

LIZZIE and LAURA dance.

LIZZIE: To the happy couple! Happy, happy, happy!

LAURA: I said behave.

After some dancing, the music fades or changes to a slow dance. LIZZIE slow dances with LAURA.

LIZZIE: Laura? Are you happy?

LAURA: Occasionally.

LIZZIE: Me too. Sometimes I’m very, very happy and, other times, I’m not very happy at all.

LAURA: Take it easy on the booze, eh?

LIZZIE: I will. I need it tonight though so I can pretend to celebrate. They got a disco ball. I’m glad they did that. Reminds me of outer space. It’s like a star exploded and we’re smack dab in the middle of it.

LAURA: I’m exhausted. Let’s go. David and I can give you a lift back to the hotel.

LIZZIE: Nah, I’m good. I got a few more dances in me. I’ll walk.

LAURA: That’ll take forever.

LIZZIE: Then I’ll hitchhike.

LAURA: Don’t be stupid.

LIZZIE: I got plenty of options. I bet the guy in the brown suit’ll give me a ride if I ask nicely. He was giving me the eye earlier.

LAURA: He looks like a jackass.

LIZZIE: He does!

LIZZIE laughs.

God, I miss you. We gotta hang out more.

LAURA: Yeah, and you gotta drink less.

LIZZIE: That’s for sure. One more year and I’ll have my Bachelor of Science, but I have to get my marks up—way up—to be an astronaut.

LAURA: You were so brilliant. You still are.

LIZZIE: I’m gonna do it. Obeshchayu—that means I promise in Russian.

LAURA: See ya later, Valentina.

LIZZIE: Da svidania. Give my best to David.

LAURA: Get home safe.

LIZZIE turns back to the dance floor.

LIZZIE: Hey! You in the brown suit! Let’s boogie, jackass!

A shift into the present.

***

Want to find out what happens next? Get your copy of Pretty Goblins now!

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